Larger businesses spend many thousands of dollars to get their custom-designed and programmed sites, but there's no need for smaller organizations and individuals to go to that kind of expense. For about $10 per month (or around $25 if you're selling products) and a few hours of your time, the services included here can help you create a unique, attractive website.

Hi Jeremy! Thank you for giving me a very straightforward and transparent approach to making your own website. My daughter is a visual artist, and she will be applying to art schools in the next year. A website is necessary for her to show her work (all still paintings) to prospective art school admissions councilors and staff. What would be a good builder to use to "bring to life" her paintings and present them in a simple, tasteful and uncluttered way? And at this time, she is not going to use this site to sell her work, just present it to schools.
Hi there Shannin, What you're looking to create is a bit too advanced for the website builders we suggested above. You'll probably need a more specialized website builder (perhaps search for a "marketplace website builder"?) or have one custom built for you. If you decide on the latter, take a look at our guide on how to hire a website developer. Jeremy
These services can host your content on their servers free of charge, but in exchange for that zero cost, your online destination will have a less-than-elegant domain, such as jeffreylwilson.tumblr.com. That might be fine for a personal blog, but it will look too low-rent for a business that wants people to trust it enough to pay for whatever it's selling.
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web... See Full Bio

The prevailing amount of contemporary website builders offer two alternatives. The first one implies the use of the trial period, which lasts for a specified period of time and triggers the necessity to sign up for one of the paid plans after the end of the trial. The second alternative implies the use of a ‘freemium’ (free+premium) business model, which means that you can sign up and use a basic feature set for free.
Good article - but to make my choice easier, i must say this web site is awesome. What website builder did you build this site on Jeremy? Because all other website templates from the builders that i see operate nowhere near as good as this site. This site looks great in all devices, it runs quick - looks really professional and has so many features that i see. It just works well. The others look good on the surface but when you realy start to see how they look (changing browser window) and how they run and load this web site is light years ahead. So which website builder did you use for this site? This would be my choice for sure.

On most builders you can create your website in less than an hour. We don’t recommend being quite so quickfire about it, though. The best way to make a website is to give yourself a solid day to play around with the software and fine tune your site. It can take much longer than this to make a website site though – it depends on how many pages you have and how much customization you need to do.
Hi there Shannin, What you're looking to create is a bit too advanced for the website builders we suggested above. You'll probably need a more specialized website builder (perhaps search for a "marketplace website builder"?) or have one custom built for you. If you decide on the latter, take a look at our guide on how to hire a website developer. Jeremy
Hello Mart, I don't think WYSIWIG website builders have any built in searchable databases - at least not the ones I've used before anyway. I "think" I've seen an external widget that you can use and plug it into a website. Have you tried searching for one? If there isn't any, I'd imagine you'd have to have one custom built to work the way you want it to. One "hack" you might want to consider is to use the website builder's search bar tool. So you would insert all your data into your website as pages, and let people use the sitewide search bar to find what they're looking for. It's not an elegant solution, but worth considering or testing. Jeremy
There are a number of free and commercial web editors available. If you use Windows, one of the best around is Microsoft Expression Web. This was a formerly commercial program that Microsoft now distributes for free, presumably because they no longer want to be in the web editor business. It is fully-featured and very polished (as befits software that was once sold in shops) with facilities that both new and experienced webmasters find useful. You can find a guide on how to use this program from my Expression Web Tutorial. The latter takes you through the process of designing a fully functional multi-page website that is mobile-friendly (that is, your site will work well on both desktop/laptop computers and the smaller screens of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets). Instructions on how to get the editor can also be found in that tutorial.
Next, you’ll see a section for Hosting Add-ons. Honestly, I don’t think you need any of these, with the exception of an SSL certificate – which is automatically included for free. This will enable your site to have that little “Secure” lock icon, which you can probably see up in the address bar for this site. Having that there makes your site more trustworthy to visitors.
Hi wbs, Getting started is definitely the easy part - no doubt about that! And I take your point that it can be challenging to make a design that you're 100% happy with. So, I guess we're pretty lucky that website builders like Wix and Squarespace offer such eye-catching templates that we can edit to our liking or use as jumping off point! (Our 3-step guide can help you pick the right template too..) Not having to work with a blank canvas certainly makes things much easier and gets the creative juices flowing. I think the best thing we (as amateur designers!) can take from sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc is the simplicity of their design. Your users want to find what they need quickly and easily, so the key lesson is to keep designs eye-catching but user-friendly (oh and don't forget the importance of color on a website!). Thanks for joining the conversation, - Tom
For those who don't have Windows 10 but need Microsoft Edge, and those who run a Mac (and thus do not have either Edge or Internet Explorer), all is not lost. You can use a piece of software called a virtual machine, which mimics a completely separate computer running within your real computer. Information about this can be found in the article How to Check Your Website with Multiple Browsers on a Single Machine (Cross-Browser Compatibility Checking).
Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S... See Full Bio
Hi ify, The best advice I could offer is to give the free trials a go on Wix, Weebly and Squarespace and see how you get on with each builder. This will give you a chance to explore their functionalities and see how feasible your ideas are. Squarespace is highly regarded as a portfolio website builder and that sounds like it may be something in line with your ambitions (e.g. showcasing make up examples). Hope that helps, - Tom
However, your presentation of Comparative Web Builders was absolutely, totally and altogether superb! It was the essence of distilled intelligence, of simplifying a complex mess, of bringing flawless order out of scuzzy chaos. I congratulate you on possessing an unusual and unique skill and talent. I am a writer and inventor, and nothing turns me on intellectually more than seeing someone do what you did! Your work is stunning.
If you're on a Mac however, there's another option: RapidWeaver. This WYSIWYG webpage editor has full code access and FTP support for uploading pages. There are plenty of built-in templates to get started, all for the one-time price of $99.99. On Windows there are numerous choices. Xara Web Designer 365, for example, starts at $49.99 and promises you don't need to know HTML or Javascript to create sites based on the company's templates.
Hello, I used BigCommerce to build the website, tenbrookeleanne.com, for my girlfriend's brick and mortar boutique. I do not know any code and before making this website, I knew nothing about ecommerce. The customer service for BigCommerce is awesome! Even though they are a WYSIWYG drag and drop site builder, they helped me customize my website by editing the code for me. They changed the background for my chosen (free) template and added an instagram social button even though it wasn't in the template. When making the website I had a ton of questions and they were always happy to help, now I very rarely have to call support. The BigCommerce University and question forums are very resourceful at well. I would highly recommend BigCommerce to anyone who is looking to make an ecommerce site. My only complaint about BigCommerce is that they do not have a native solution to integrate with the brick and mortar store POS to keep the inventory up to date (though they say they are/have been working on it). I have to use an expensive and less than satisfactory third party software for the two platforms to communicate with each other.

Most website builders have free plans, or at least free trials, that mean you can create a business website for nothing! However, free plans do come with restrictions that can be limiting for your business, for example, displaying adverts for your website builder on your site. This doesn’t give off a very professional image, but you can get rid of them by upgrading to a paid plan for a modest monthly fee.
Do it Yourself: There are a number of logo design software out there that will allow you to create your own logo. We recommend Tailor Brands if you want an easy way to create an appealing logo. Once you create your logo, you can subscribe and gain access to branding tools, including seasonal logos, branded social media posts, branding landing pages, and more. You can try it out for free, and if you find a design you like, you can download it for as little as $2.99. Click here to start designing your logo.

Hello Kate, Based on your comment, that doesn't sound right at all! Did you give you a very detailed and sensible reason of why they are requesting the $700? Normally, domain names cost about $12 - $15 to renew on an annual basis. You can see more discussions about domain names that we've put together here. You should definitely demand a reasonable and detailed explanation. Good luck with that. Jeremy
Hey Jeremy, Awesome article. I especially like the flow and the logical approach that you took to educate people. This is the article I point clients to, to get them up to speed before starting projects. I think it's important for them to know how their products work. While they aren't making their own sites, it definitely still fits the bill. Also, I'm curious as to what you think about WooCommerce these days. I didn't seem them on the list in the other article you wrote "Best Ecommerce Software". Anyways, I've been sending my clients here for a while now and just want to give you a shout out at a job well done! If you are able to send me an email, I do have a question I'd like to ask if you have the time.
Hi Jeremy! Thank you for giving me a very straightforward and transparent approach to making your own website. My daughter is a visual artist, and she will be applying to art schools in the next year. A website is necessary for her to show her work (all still paintings) to prospective art school admissions councilors and staff. What would be a good builder to use to "bring to life" her paintings and present them in a simple, tasteful and uncluttered way? And at this time, she is not going to use this site to sell her work, just present it to schools.
Many people have asked me about using a website builder such as Squarespace, Wix or Weebly. The problem is that these services come at a price – you’ll generally have to pay between $10 and $40 a month for a single site. You’ll also be limited to basic customization of the template designs they offer, which means that there’s a good chance your site will look just like everyone else’s site.
Trouble is, and I’ve tried to navigate quite a few, but within minutes, as a complete Luddite – I get completely bogged down. I even managed to make a mess of the WordPress option. All I need is the most basic site with detail and a pic of my book. I don’t need a pay page and am happy just to direct people to Amazon etc. should they wish to purchase. Even writing this I feel sure you have covered everything I am asking here. But could you offer some suggestions on the best way forward. I should add here (and I know there would be options for me should money not be a problem) that unfortunately throwing a lot of money at this is (unfortunately) not an option.
For most users, free themes are the best place to start. When you install a new theme, it doesn’t change the content on your site, only the layout. This means you can download and install a number of different themes to see which theme suits you best. If you feel like you need something more advanced than a free theme, you can always install a paid theme at a later date.
Sure, there are more advanced hosting topics to consider, such as Domain Name Servers and multi-cloud connectivity, but this guide is meant to introduce you to the basics. Whether you decide to do build a website yourself or hire coding experts to do the dirty work is up to you. But for now, rest easy knowing you have the information to get started in taking your business online.
Website uptime is a measure how often your website is available to everyone on the internet.  Ideally we are striving for 100%.  Websites are loaded from what’s basically a big computer called a server, and since it’s a computer it occasionally needs to be restarted, updated, etc. in order to continue to function well.  Because of this maintenance 100% uptime isn’t realistic, but somewhere in the 99% or greater range is.  What we are basically looking for here is any red flags where the site is not working for long periods.
WordPress is not an all-in-one package. It’s a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS allows you to create and organize digital content. Other elements like hosting and domain registration are best done separately. It’s up to you to bring these together in service of a WordPress site. This isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think, but it’s not the easiest way to make a website. We wouldn’t recommend it to people uncomfortable with technology.
×